Infinitive or -ing?

Hello everyone and happy spring!!!

As we prepare for the May-June exams, today we want to address a very common doubt students have when writing or speaking: do I use the verb in its -ing form or infinitive? We have prepared a post to explain the main uses of these verb forms, scroll down to keep reading!

We use the -ing: We use the infinitive:
When the verb is the subject of the object of the sentence.

“Swimming is good for you”

After prepositions

“I’m afraid of travelling by plane”

After some expressions

“There’s no use in being angry, life’s too short!”

After some verbs *

To say why we do something

“I go to the gym to get fit”

To say why something exists

“There are some exercises at the end of this post for you to practise”

After adjectives

“This box is too heavy for me to lift”

After the word “enough”

“I’m not strong enough to lift this box”

After some verbs *

The table above describes the basic rules to use infitives and -ing but have you seen that red asterik? We need more information about those verbs! To begin with, we are going to divide them into three different categories:

  1. Verbs only followed by infinitive / -ing  (For example: decide, want, refuse, prepare,etc. are always followed by an infinitive but enjoy or fancy are always followed by an -ing)
  2. Verbs followed by both infinitive or -ing with no/little change in meaning (For example: love, like, hate or dislike)
  3. Verbs followed by infinitive or -ing with change in meaning.


Do you need a complete list of the verbs in the first and second categories? Ask your ES teacher and we’ll be happy to give you the list and some extra exercises for you to practise! 😉

Now, let’s focus on the third and fourth categories to look at them in a bit more detail.

Verbs followed by infinitive or -ing with change in meaning:

The  -ing:

The Infinitive


I regret going to bed so late last night, I’m very tired now. I regret to inform you that the show has been cancelled.


If you want to get fit, why don’t you try joining a fitness club? I tried to eat more healthily but I just love junk food.


I remember going to Paris when I was five years old. Please, remember to switch the lights off before you leave


Being a good friend means being loyal. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you.


I’ve stopped smoking. I stopped to drink water when I was half way.


Can you figure out the difference in meaning? The verbs regret and remember have a past meaning when followed by -ing and a present/future one when followed by infinitive but in the case of stop, mean and try the meaning of the verb itself changes.

Stop + -ing means to stop something permanently whereas stop + infinitive means to stop an action temporarily , often interrupting it to continue it later.

Mean + -ing is a synonym for “involve” whereas mean + infinitve is used to say “have the intention”.

Try + -ing means to “have a go” or experiment with something to see what happens. On the other hand, try + infitive means that you attempted something but didn’t succeed.

I hope to have shed some light on the use of these verb forms and remember, if you want extra practice, contact your ES teacher! We’ll be more than happy to help! 🙂

Happy end of March and happy beginning of spring! 😀


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